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Florists: You Are The REVOLUTION!

Revolution! AIFD National Symposium

REVOLUTION! What an appropriate name for the American Institute of Floral Design’s 2010 National Symposium. Sure, being in Boston, MA on the Fourth of July put us all in a Revolutionary mood, but it was much, much more than that.

Over the past decade, the floral industry has gone through some incredible changes, and savvy florists everywhere have reacted, adapted and grown exponentially. As floral artists, we need to continue to educate ourselves and evolve. It’s our passion, creativity and innovation that enables us to thrive ourselves in this fast-paced market.

Unique Christmas Tree Decor Corporate Christmas New England Christmas

Bert Ford‘s Holiday Emotions was the first presentation I attended, and of course it blew me away! Bert walked us through a number of incredible Christmas environments, all with very different emotions. The first was Corporate Christmas. This was stylish meets sophisticated. He used lots of glass, giant ornaments and the traditional red and green colors, with a hint of electric green for kicks. He then took us on a ride of emotions: Home For The Holidays (Birch wood, hollies, poinsettias), White Christmas (Whites, silvers, birds, glitter, glitter, glitter!), Let’s Party! (Rainbow of colors, glitter, ornaments), and more!

Bert’s sophisticated, yet playful designs definitely inspired florists everywhere who are sick and tired of only using red and green in their Christmas floral designs. (Don’t worry, I will be sharing in depth what I learn in future articles.)

Fiery Funeral Urn African Funeral Tribute Deconstructed Sunflower Wreath

Another presenter, Ty Leslie proves we cannot move forward without looking to the past. By embracing our history and traditions, we can move forward with something new. Ty’s incredible presentation looked at sympathy and funeral traditions from our past and interpreted them into modern, usable designs. He began each segment by showing us a slide show of how a particular symbol was used.

For instance, the most popular symbol in the 19th century was the urn. Ty created an incredible design using an urn as the container, he also used yellow Oncidium orchids, Heliconia or birds of paradise, yellow spray roses and Protea to create the illusion of a brilliant, fiery urn. The fire represents eternal life and vigilance, an eternal flame tribute to an incredible person.

For more on Ty Leslie’s presentation, check out this interview:

Thanks again, Ty!

Felt in Floral Design The Matador Egg - Unique Floral Design

European designer, Emilia Oliverio brought us tons of new ideas and trends from across the pond. Emilia draws much of her inspiration from her home in France, but also enjoys the crafts of her grandmothers. She revitalizes old crochet and knitting techniques and uses them in her own floral art. Many of her designs involve intricate crocheted wire or wool. Her matador-inspired piece was truly a masterpiece.

A Study of Contrasts - Line Simple and Elegant Floral DesignStudy of Contrasts

Everyone was buzzing about Gregor Lersch, and let me tell ya, his presentation did NOT disappoint! Gregor is the author of 28 books, and will publish a new one in 2011 — The Relationship of Contrasts — on the same topic as his AIFD Symposium presentation.

I must admit, I wrote enough notes at this presentation to fill a book! It was an incredible explanation of how contrasts are used in floral design, or design in general, for that matter. His very simple floral art only used the basic elements of design he was pointing out. Many of his work was in groups. He would show one design in its simplest forms then add a ‘dose’ of a new element, then another, then another, until he had 4 impressive displays. In all my years of art school, I have never seen such a basic, yet brilliant explanation of the elements of design. Thank you so much, Mr. Lersch.

Brad Harnisch AIFD and Kelly Harnisch AIFD gave us an interesting presentation all about different events throughout our lives. As our lives become more engrossed in technology, face-to-face meetings become even more significant. They wanted to call attention to significant meetings, a revolution of gatherings.

They took us on a marvelous journey of celebrations: A very unique wedding filled with wire and orchid cocoon trees and a beautiful yet, earthy deconstructed sunflower mat. An anniversary filled with very special tributes. A winter solstice party. Even a celebration of the end of life, complete with a labyrinth of bamboo tubes for guests to put notes of their memories into. Having a party before ‘the end’ to celebrate a lifetime of memories is an interesting concept. With the prevalence of terminal illnesses, many people know when it’s ‘their time’ and parties like these are on the rise. (I will be writing more on this in future articles.)

I could go on all day about the things I learned at this spectacular conference. (And probably will be writing for months on the subjects covered.) As Gregor Lersch put it, the AIFD stage is the most important stage in the world for floral designers. It was an honor to be there, and I hope I can relay as much as I can to help florists everywhere to start their own REVOLUTION!

This post was brought to you by local Boston, MA florists.


  1. It was great meeting you at symposium, it was a wonderful show–appreciate you taking the time to put this article together. I downloaded my pics, but that’s as far as it got…had lots to do when I got home, so I appreciate yours !! Did attach what I learned on Thursday in Gregors class

    Attached Image: M1100003.jpg

  2. Yes, it was great to meet you! I love what you did in Gregor’s class! You should write an article about your experiences in the class and how much you learned. (I’m sure it was tons, he is very, very talented.) We would love to have it on the Bloomin’ Blog!

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